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UNC Basketball: Readiness

Ready or not, here he comes

St. Francis (Pa) v North Carolina Photo by Peyton Williams/UNC/Getty Images

How do you know when you’re ready?

It seems hard, at least for me. Even when I leave the house to run an errand, I have to check my pockets at least three times before locking the door to make sure I’m actually ready. Phone, wallet, keys... Ready as I’ll ever be. For folks that don’t second-guess themselves like it’s their job, how does it feel? Is there a calm assurance, an inherent ‘knowing’ in the same way that we know the sun will rise in the east each morning? Is it a nice feeling? Is it a feeling at all, or just the absence of that knawing feeling that lives somewhere in the shadowy corners of my mind? Does any of this make sense?

Each thing I’ve done in my life, I’ve done without feeling truly ready. I wasn’t ready to leave home and go to college, but then when I finished college I was not at all ready to move back in with my parents as I looked for work. I wasn’t ready to move out again when I did find work. When I finally hit submit on this post and send it off into the waiting arms of our ever-patient editorial staff, I’ll still not be completely sure if it’s ready or not.

In case you haven’t heard (unlikely, as you should be reading pretty much anything Al writes here), Elliott Cadeau has reclassified and will join the Tar Heels for the upcoming season. A lot will be made of this decision; by all accounts, Cadeau is a hell of a player and is widely expected to carry that excellence over to the next level. Many words will be written with a breathless anticipation as we all wait for the next iteration of the team from Chapel Hill, and many more still will be printed about how the team as a whole changes with the addition of a very talented true point guard.

I’m sure he would tell you he’s ready. That level of athletic achievement doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for self-doubt, and we wouldn’t likely want to hear about it if he didn’t feel he was. The decision to reclassify is itself an overt statement that he and his folks think he’s ready to play ball at the highest level that collegiate athletes can offer, and I have no reason at all to doubt it. This is in no way meant to cast doubt on that fact. All I mean to express is that I admire that level of self-assuredness, and point out how foreign it feels.

The step from high school and to Division 1 basketball is quite large, although perhaps not as drastic as it used to be with the popularity of year-round high-level AAU tournaments and leagues. No amount of self-belief can guarantee that someone is ready for that kind of jump in competition, where a player goes from being Him on his high school team to being on an entire team full of Hims. It’s a tough thing to nail, but each year there are true freshman who declare to the world that they’re ready on some of the biggest stages that this sport has to offer.

We can’t be completely sure whether Cadeau is truly ready to suit up and lead these Tar Heels, but he believes he is. That’s enough for me. I know I couldn’t be more ready to watch.